Born In The U.S., Raised In China: ‘Satellite Babies’ Have A Hard Time Coming Home : NPR

Another take on “anchor babies” from the perspective of the children and their families:

“Anytime you eat at a Chinese restaurant in Chinatown, it’s likely that somebody in that restaurant has a child who is in China at the moment,” says Cindy Liu, a psychologist at Harvard University. She points out that no one knows exactly how many Chinese immigrant families send their babies to be raised by family in China.

That’s partly why she helped start a research project focusing on Chinese immigrants in the Boston area who are raising what some psychologists call “satellite babies.” Like satellites in space, these children leave from and return to the same spot.

You can find similar arrangements among immigrant communities from South Asia, Africa and the Caribbean, researchers say. The satellite babies of Chinese immigrants usually come back to the U.S. in time for school.

When Satellite Babies Go To School

For their study, Liu and her colleagues interviewed adults who were once satellite babies to try to track the long-term impacts of the experience. Researchers say there are benefits from spending your early years in another country, away from your birth parents. Many satellite babies are exposed to their immigrant parents’ mother tongues and often develop strong ties with their grandparents and other extended relatives.

While Liu says that separation between satellite babies and their biological parents does not necessarily harm their relationship, some teachers and principals in New York City, where researchers also see this phenomenon, say these children can sometimes show subtle signs of trauma.

“They’re always looking around to see who’s there with them,” says Principal Elizabeth Culkin of P.S. 176 in Brooklyn. “And they always need that sense of knowing where they are and who’s there to protect them.”

Five-year-old Vivien Huang reads a book in her kindergarten classroom. After being raised in China, her teacher says she’s eagerly learning English from picture books.

Jennifer Hsu/WNYC

Members of Culkin’s staff say sometimes these children may act out by pushing or shoving other students to get attention. There are, of course, language difficulties, and some children show signs of attachment disorders.

Source: Born In The U.S., Raised In China: ‘Satellite Babies’ Have A Hard Time Coming Home : NPR Ed : NPR

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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